Herbie Fully Loaded (2005)

Herbie_Fully_LoadedAfter a montage of earlier “Herbie” films, we continue with the “extreme” semi-remake quasi-sequel to “Herbie The Love Bug” called “Herbie: Fully Loaded”. Do people still race with Buggies? Who cares, but you just know Lindsay Lohan must have owed something to Disney to have to do this film. It’s not like Lohan’s “career” has been all about quality films, mind you, but this film has “Contract fulfillment” written all over it. Granted, it’s not one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, not even one of the worst I’ve seen in a while, but it’s pretty damn lame, even for a kids film.

Maggie just graduated college, her dad who is running a racing business and failing agrees to buy her a heap of a car to restore it, Herbie picks her, they become friends, there’s the arch-enemy, the love interest, the obligatory cameo from a race car driver, and yadda yadda happy ending. Maggie is our girl power heroine who wants to race, but can’t, because girls aren’t allowed. I don’t watch NASCAR, but is it true women aren’t allowed to race? Regardless, it moves the plot along and tries to help us sympathize for a basically unlikable heroine. Maggie is an unlikable and extremely one-dimensional heroine, and Lohan’s “acting” never helps us relate to her, and her situation. It’s hard to believe a character with the “girl power” concept could be so shrill and annoying. Lohan’s performance is very weak as she sleepwalks through the film. A few aspects that kept this film from being a waste of time were the talents of Justin Long and Matt Dillon.

Long is a very underrated actor who can do comedy and pull it off without a single chink in the armor, and he works here, even if most of the time he’s pulling the slack for Lohan. He’s funny, and works well with physical comedy here. Dillon is fun as the usual mustache twirling egomaniac who is intent on beating Herbie. While he’s smart enough to discover that Herbie is a living car, he’s never smart enough to realize he could use Herbie to remain an eternal NASCAR champion, but that plot hole not withstanding, Dillon is good here. The film is built around the basic formula upon Disney makes money with the no-brainer plot, and the usual array of gags, and cheesy soundtrack. The height of the humor here is showing Herbie fall in love with a yellow buggie which mysteriously comes to life in the climax for some odd reason. And we never do find out why, or how Herbie became the way he is.

I highly doubt there’s even going to be a sequel so it feels incredibly half-assed when the film has ended. If Herbie can emote, why can’t he talk? Does changing his engine render him an average car? Is he a monster? The spirit of a dead car racer? How and why did he pick Maggie? Was he in love with her, or sensed something about her? It just never added up. And why if the film was rated G was Robinson so interested in flaunting Lohan? Tight T-Shirts, a scene where she changes in the back of Herbie, upon inspecting him Herbie squirts oil on her shirt which lands along her breast area, and should I mention the innuendo behind Herbie’s antennae standing at attention to seeing a female buggy? So, Lohan, still going for that Oscar? This new extreme installment of Disney’s “Herbie” franchise is an attempt to resuscitate the property when it should have stayed long dead.